• 85 armed groups on PNP watch list

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    THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said they are monitoring at least 85 private armed groups (PAGs) that could undermine holding of peaceful and orderly elections on May 9 this year.

    The head of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, Director Generoso Cerbo, told reporters during a news conference in Camp Crame in Quezon City that most of these PAGs are located in restive southern Mindanao.

    “I think seven PAGs have been added to the previous 78, so it’s now 85… so we are now looking [at that number],” Cerbo said.

    According to him, new private armed groups that they have identified are in Luzon.

    The PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, said in a previous briefing that only 78 PAGs are being monitored by the police for this year’s synchronized national and local elections on May 9.

    Most of them, he added, are specifically in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    During the 2010 presidential elections, Mayor said, there were around 107 PAGs being monitored by the police and the number went down to 81 during the mid-term national and local elections in 2013.

    One of the armed groups that was being monitored by the police during that year was maintained by the powerful political clan of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.

    That group, numbering more than 100 armed men, was implicated in the massacre of nearly 60 people, majority of whom were journalists, on November 23, 2009.

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